June 25: [James Weldon Johnson], Poet, 1938

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from Twentieth Century Negro Literature http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/18772. Pub. 1902.

About this commemoration

James Weldon Johnson was born in 1871 in Jacksonville, Florida. His parents stimulated his academic interests and he was encouraged to study literature and music. Johnson enrolled at Atlanta University with the expressed intention that the education he received there would be used to further the interests of the black people. He never reneged on that commitment. In the summer after his freshman year, Johnson taught the children of former slaves. Of that experience he wrote, “In all of my experience there has been no period so brief that has meant so much in my education for life as the three months I spent in the backwoods of Georgia.” After graduation, he became the principal of the largest high school in Jacksonville, during which time he was paid half of what his white counterparts were paid even though the school excelled under his leadership.

In 1900, he collaborated with his brother, Rosamond, a composer, to create “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.” Written in celebration of President Lincoln’s birthday, the song, still popular today, has become known as the “African American National Anthem.” Due to the success of their collaboration, Johnson moved to New York in 1901 to join his brother and together they attained success as lyricist and composer for Broadway.

In 1906, Johnson was invited to work for the diplomatic corps and became U.S. Consul to Venezuela and later Nicaragua.  During his Nicaraguan tenure, Johnson was a voice of reason and reconciliation in a time of civil unrest and turmoil. His ability to bring together people of differing viewpoints toward a common vision served Johnson well in the 1920’s when he became an organizer for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Johnson was a prolific poet and anthologist. He edited The Book of American Negro Poetry (1922), a major contribution to the history of African-American literature. His book of poetry God’s Trombones (1927), seven biblical stories rendered into verse, was influenced by his impressions of the rural South.

James Weldon Johnson died in 1938.

Collects

I  Eternal God, we give thanks for the gifts that thou didst bestow upon thy servant James Weldon Johnson: a heart and voice to praise thy Name in verse. As he gave us powerful words to glorify you, may we also speak with joy and boldness to banish hatred from thy creation, in the Name of Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

II   Eternal God, we give thanks for the gifts that you gave your servant James Weldon Johnson: a heart and voice to praise your Name in verse. As he gave us powerful words to glorify you, may we also speak with joy and boldness to banish hatred from your creation, in the Name of Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Psalm 46:1–8

Lessons

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 39:1–11

Ephesians 6:10–18

Luke 1:57–75

Preface of the Epiphany

From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

June 22: Alban, First Martyr of Britain, c. 304

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About this commemoration

Alban is the earliest Christian in Britain who is known by name and, according to tradition, the first British martyr. He was a soldier in the Roman army stationed at Verulamium, a city about twenty miles northeast of London, now called St. Alban’s. He gave shelter to a Christian priest who was fleeing from persecution, and was converted by him. When officers came to Alban’s house, he dressed himself in the garments of the priest and gave himself up. Alban was tortured and martyred in place of the priest, on the hilltop where the Cathedral of St. Alban’s now stands. The traditional date of his martyrdom is 303 or 304, but recent studies suggest that the year was actually 209, during the persecution under the Emperor Septimius Severus.

The site of Alban’s martyrdom soon became a shrine. King Offa of Mercia established a monastery there about the year 793, and in the high Middle Ages St. Alban’s ranked as the premier Abbey in England. The great Norman abbey church, begun in 1077, now serves as the cathedral of the diocese of St. Alban’s, established in 1877. It is the second longest church in England (Winchester Cathedral is the longest, by six feet), and it is built on higher ground than any other English cathedral. In a chapel east of the choir and high Altar, there are remains of the fourteenth century marble shrine of St. Alban.

The Shrine of St. Alban. Photographer: Michael Reeve, 30 June 2004

The Venerable Bede gives this account of Alban’s trial: “When Alban was brought in, the judge happened to be standing before an altar, offering sacrifice to devils … ‘What is your family and race?’ demanded the judge. ‘How does my family concern you?’ replied Alban; ‘If you wish to know the truth about my religion, know that I am a Christian and am ready to do a Christian’s duty.’ ‘I demand to know your name,’ insisted the judge. ‘Tell me at once.’ ‘My parents named me Alban,’ he answered, ‘and I worship and adore the living and true God, who created all things.’ ”

Collects

I  Almighty God, by whose grace and power thy holy martyr Alban triumphed over suffering and was faithful even unto death: Grant to us, who now remember him with thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to thee in this world, that we may receive with him the crown of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

II  Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Alban triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death: Grant us, who now remember him in thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world, that we may receive with him the crown of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Psalm  31:1–5

Lessons

Wisdom 3:1–9

1 John 3:13–16

Matthew 10:34–42

Preface of a Saint (3)

From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

 

June 18: Bernard Mizeki, Catechist and Martyr in Mashonaland, 1896

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About this commemoration

Bernard Mizeki

(http://www.almalink.org/dioceses/mezeki.htm)

Bernard Mizeki was born about the year 1861 in Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique). In his early teens he escaped from his native land and arrived in Capetown, South Africa, where he was befriended and converted by Anglican missionaries. He was baptized on March 9, 1886.

In 1891 Bernard Mizeki volunteered as a catechist for the pioneer mission in Mashonaland, and was stationed at Nhowe. In June, 1896, during an uprising of the native people against the Europeans and their African friends, Bernard was marked out especially. Though warned to flee, he would not desert his converts at the mission station. He was stabbed to death, but his body was never found, and the exact site of his burial is unknown.

A shrine near Bernard’s place of martyrdom attracts many pilgrims today, and the Anglican Churches of Central and of South Africa honor him as their primary native martyr and witness.

Collects

I  Almighty and everlasting God, who didst enkindle the flame of thy love in the heart of thy holy martyr Bernard Mizeki: Grant to us, thy humble servants, a like faith and power of love, that we who rejoice in his triumph may profit by his example; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

II  Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of your love in the heart of your holy martyr Bernard Mizeki: Grant to us, your humble servants, a like faith and power of love, that we who rejoice in his triumph may profit by his example; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Psalm  124

Lessons

Nehemiah 6:6–11

Revelation 7:13–17

Luke 12:2–12

Preface of Holy Week

From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

 

June 16: [George Berkeley and] Joseph Butler, Bishops and Theologians, 1753, 1752

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About this commemoration

George Berkeley was born in Ireland in 1684, educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and ordained to the priesthood in 1721. As Dean of Derry, beginning in 1724, he developed an interest in the churches in colonial America as well as concern for the conversion of Native Americans to the Christian faith.

He sailed for America, reaching Newport, Rhode Island, in January, 1729, settling on a plantation nearby, Whitehall, while awaiting the resources to start a college in Bermuda. When his plans failed, he gave Whitehall and his personal library to Yale College and returned to Ireland where he became Bishop of Cloyne in 1734. Berkeley College at Yale, Berkeley Divinity School, and the City of Berkeley, California, are named for him.

Berkeley was a major philosopher of his time and among his achievements was the theory of immaterialism—individuals can only directly know objects by the perception of them—an idea that would influence Hume, Kant, and Schopenhauer.

Joseph Butler, once called “the greatest of all the thinkers of the English Church,” was born in Berkshire in 1692, into a Presbyterian family. His early education was in dissenting academies, but in his early twenties he became an Anglican. He entered Oxford in 1715 and was ordained in 1718.

Butler distinguished himself as a preacher while serving Rolls Chapel, Chancery Lane, London, and then went on to serve several parishes before being appointed Bishop of Bristol in 1738. He declined the primacy of Canterbury, but accepted translation to Durham in 1750. He died on June 16, 1752 in Bath, and his body was entombed in Bristol Cathedral.

Butler’s importance rests chiefly on his acute apology for orthodox Christianity against the Deistic through prevalent in England in his time, The Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed, to the Constitution and Course of Nature, 1736. He maintained the “reasonable probability” of Christianity, with action upon that probability as a basis for faith. Butler’s was a rational exposition of the faith grounded in deep personal piety, a worthy counterpoint to the enthusiasm of the Wesleyan revival of the same period.

Collects

I  Holy God, source of all wisdom: We give thanks for thy servants George Berkeley and Joseph Butler, who by their life and work strengthened thy Church and illumined thy world. Help us, following their examples, to place our hearts and minds in thy service, for the sake of Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

II  Holy God, source of all wisdom: We give thanks for your servants George Berkeley and Joseph Butler, who by their life and work strengthened your Church and illumined your world. Help us, following their examples, to place our hearts and minds in your service, for the sake of Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Psalm  119:89–96

Lessons

Isaiah 6:6–10

Acts 13:38–44

John 3:11–16

Preface of a Saint (1)

From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

June 15: Evelyn Underhill, 1941

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About this commemoration

The only child of a prominent barrister and his wife, Evelyn Underhill was born in Wolverhampton, England, and grew up in London. She was educated there and in a girls’ school in Folkestone, where she was confirmed in the Church of England. She had little other formal religious training, but her spiritual curiosity was naturally lively, and she read widely, developing quite early a deep appreciation for mysticism. At sixteen, she began a life-long devotion to writing.

Evelyn had few childhood companions, but one of them, Hubert Stuart Moore, she eventually married. Other friends, made later, included such famous persons as Laurence Housman, Maurice Hewlett, and Sarah Bernhardt. Closest of all were Ethel Ross Barker, a devout Roman Catholic, and Baron Friedrich von Hügel, with whom she formed a strong spiritual bond. He became her director in matters mystical.

In the 1890’s, Evelyn began annual visits to the Continent, and especially to Italy. There she became influenced by the paintings of the Italian masters and by the Roman Catholic Church. She spent nearly fifteen years wrestling painfully with the idea of converting to Roman Catholicism, but decided in the end that it was not for her.

In 1921, Evelyn Underhill became reconciled to her Anglican roots, while remaining what she called a “Catholic Christian.” She continued with her life of reading, writing, meditation, and prayer. She had already published her first great spiritual work, Mysticism. This was followed by many other books, culminating in her most widely read and studied book, Worship (1937).

Evelyn Underhill’s most valuable contribution to spiritual literature must surely be her conviction that the mystical life is not only open to a saintly few, but to anyone who cares to nurture it and weave it into everyday experience, and also (at the time, a startling idea) that modern psychological theories and discoveries, far from hindering or negating spirituality, can actually enhance and transform it.

Evelyn Underhill’s writings proved appealing to many, resulting in a large international circle of friends and disciples, making her much in demand as a lecturer and retreat director. She died, at age 65, in 1941.

Collects

I  O God, Origin, Sustainer, and End of all creatures: Grant that thy Church, taught by thy servant Evelyn Underhill, guarded evermore by thy power, and guided by thy Spirit into the light of truth, may continually offer to thee all glory and thanksgiving, and attain with thy saints to the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast promised us by our Savior Jesus Christ; who with thee and the same Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

II  O God, Origin, Sustainer, and End of all your creatures: Grant that your Church, taught by your servant Evelyn Underhill, guarded evermore by your power, and guided by your Spirit into the light of truth, may continually offer to you all glory and thanksgiving and attain with your saints to the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have promised by our Savior Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Psalm  37:3–6, 32–33

Lessons

Wisdom 7:24–8:1

1 Corinthians 4:1–5

John 4:19–24

Preface of the Dedication of a Church

From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

 

June 14: Basil the Great, Bishop of Caesarea, 379

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About this commemoration

Basil was born about 329, in Caesarea of Cappadocia, into a Christian family of wealth and distinction. Educated in classical Hellenism, Basil might have continued in academic life, had it not been for the death of a beloved younger brother and the faith of his sister, Macrina. He was baptized at the age of twenty-eight, and ordained a deacon soon after.

Macrina had founded the first monastic order for women at Annesi. Fired by her example, Basil made a journey to study the life of anchorites in Egypt and elsewhere. In 358 he returned to Cappadocia and founded the first monastery for men at Ibora. Assisted by Gregory Nazianzus, he compiled The Longer and Shorter Rules, which transformed the solitary anchorites into a disciplined community of prayer and work. The Rules became the foundation for all Eastern monastic discipline. The monasteries also provided schools to train leaders for Church and State.

Basil was ordained presbyter in 364. In the conflict between the Arians (supported by an Arian Emperor) and orthodox Christians, Basil became convinced that he should be made Bishop of Caesarea. By a narrow margin, he was elected Bishop of Caesarea, Metropolitan of Cappadocia, and Exarch of Pontus. He was relentless in his efforts to restore the faith and discipline of the clergy, and in defense of the Nicene faith. When the Emperor Valens sought to undercut Basil’s power by dividing the See of Cappadocia, Basil forced his brother Gregory to become Bishop of Nyssa.

In his treatise, On the Holy Spirit, Basil maintained that both the language of Scripture and the faith of the Church require that the same honor, glory, and worship is to be paid to the Spirit as to the Father and the Son. It was entirely proper, he asserted, to adore God in liturgical prayer, not only with the traditional words, “Glory to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit;” but also with the formula, “Glory to the Father with the Son together with the Holy Spirit.”

Basil was also concerned about the poor, and when he died, he willed to Caesarea a complete new town, built on his estate, with housing, a hospital and staff, a church for the poor, and a hospice for travelers.

He died at the age of fifty, in 379, just two years before the Second Ecumenical Council, which affirmed the Nicene faith.

Collects

I  Almighty God, who hast revealed to thy Church thine eternal Being of glorious majesty and perfect love as one God in Trinity of Persons: Give us grace that, like thy bishop Basil of Caesarea, we may continue steadfast in the confession of this faith, and constant in our worship of thee, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; who livest and reignest for ever and ever.  Amen.

II  Almighty God, you have revealed to your Church your eternal Being of glorious majesty and perfect love as one God in Trinity of Persons: Give us grace that, like your bishop Basil of Caesarea, we may continue steadfast in the confession of this faith, and constant in our worship of you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; for you live and reign for ever and ever.  Amen.

Psalm 139:1–9

Lessons

Ezekiel 22:23–30

1 Corinthians 2:6–13

Luke 10:21–24

Preface of Trinity Sunday

From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

 

June 13: [Gilbert Keith Chesterton] Apologist and Writer, 1936

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Chesterton in 1905 by photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn.

About this commemoration

Born in 1874, Gilbert Keith Chesterton was one the intellectual giants of his day, and was known for his writing that spanned fields as diverse as literary criticism, fiction and fantasy, satire, and Christian apologetics. Chesterton often blended elements of such genres together, as indicated in his famous novel The Man Who Was Thursday, which combines a mystery plot with Christian imagery and symbolism. His work in the field of literary criticism was immensely influential in his day, and his book length study of Charles Dickens can be credited with bringing that author’s work back to the forefront of scholarly study.

As a young man, Chesterton had been fascinated with spiritualism and the occult, but his faith grew stronger over the years, as he devoted himself to the defense of what he called “orthodoxy,” which was for him, among other things, an acknowledgement of the mystery and paradox of Christian faith in an age of increasing skepticism. His spiritual journey toward the ancient faith of the Church culminated in his conversion to the Roman Catholic Church in 1922.

In works such as Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man, Chesterton defended Christian faith with a unique blend of wit and religious fervor, while simultaneously satirizing the prevailing viewpoints of the day that often sought to dismiss faith as irrational and unnecessary. The latter work was particularly important to C.S. Lewis, who called it “the best apologetic work I know.” Today, Chesterton is still known and loved for his sharp wit, his intellectual tenacity, and his refusal to resolve the ambiguities of Christian faith in favor of facile and passing conceptions of truth. His work has influenced intellectual figures as diverse as Ernest Hemingway and Dorothy L. Sayers, and he is a figure beloved of Protestants and Catholics alike.

Collects

I  O God of earth and altar, who didst give G. K. Chesterton a ready tongue and pen, and inspired him to use them in thy service: Mercifully grant that we may be inspired to witness cheerfully to the hope that is in us; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

II  O God of earth and altar, you gave G. K. Chesterton a ready tongue and pen, and inspired him to use them in your service: Mercifully grant that we may be inspired to witness cheerfully to the hope that is in us; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Psalm 8

Lessons 

1 Chronicles 29:10–13

1 Corinthians 15:50–52

John 1:43–51

Preface of God the Father

From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.